Young, spontaneous, natural, active, kind, and very hard-working, Elena, Mercè and Marina, 3 sisters who returned to the village, to Bellmunt del Priorat, and began to produce cheese. They chose a rural life over the city life, and far from regretting it, they are happier than ever. They open to us the door of the Formatgeria Linens (“Linens cheese Factory”), and they show us their workspace. It is one of the floors of the family house which they have turned into a shop, workroom, and ripening chamber, at the moment, because they have thousands of ideas!

The shop is cosy and welcoming. Behind the counter, there is the entrance to the workroom. Crowning the entrance, there is a sign which says: FORMATGERIA LINENS. It seems made of wood, with a retro style… but it turns out that it is made of cardboard, and it has been hand cut by them. In fact, they tell us, amused: “the letters were expected to be smaller, but we did not choose the right size, so we used it anyway and we put it here”. This says it all.

They tell us that they had just established the cooperative and signed a microcredit when the pandemic began. “Luckily, we had saved some money!!” they honestly add. Because all their savings enabled them to resist over a year… until they ran out of money, and they had to get their act together to open their business no matter how. They needed to recover themselves and continue with all the projects that they had in mind.

Close the circle by making cheese with their own milk would be one of them. Now, they have a herd of around 30 goats, which obviously isn’t enough to provide them with milk and ensure a regular production. But they take care of them with great love and dedication. They show us the pen, with excitement, and a bit proud of it. The goats are very docile (they don’t need a sheepdog to take them out to graze because they follow them wherever they go). They are gorgeous too! We stress them a bit with our visit, which means a change in their meals time, but they come close to us, they eat from our hands, they let us walk very close to them, they let us hold them, and they even let us milk them.

When we ask them where this idea of the goats came from, they tell us their story. An unfortunate excursion to the mountain range of La Mola de Colldejou (wrong path, 4 hours walking…) and an unusual discovery: a goat which had just given birth to a kid and was being attacked by a dog. A lot of blood, its trachea open, one of its ears hanging (a bit “gore” image), but they took it to the shepherd of the village, who thought it was more dead than alive, and she, Elena, didn’t want to believe him (at least, she thought that, if the goat was going to die, she preferred it “to die warm at home”, she tells us). So, after 9 months struggling between life and death, the goat survived, its name is Irati, and she is the queen of the pen. It is responsible for leading Elena to attend the Shepherds School of the Pyrenees (Escola de Pastors del Pirineu) and learn the trade. She asked herself: “what can we do with a goat? Meat or cheese… and we chose cheese. And, little by little, we have learnt how to make cheese, although we have carried out many tests and, little by little, still…”

She was the one who influenced the other two sisters, who quickly joined the project because they had always wanted to do something together. And here they are… taking care of the goats, making cheese, and learning every day.

At the moment, you can find them at the shop, in Bellmunt, and at the village market in Falset on Tuesdays too. Don’t forget to try their mató fresh cheese, their yogurt, or the Linens cheese (a semi-mature cheese). They also make pâtés, cheese with oil (formatge amb oli), and they let us try one of their latest products, a cheese with walnuts (formatge amb nous), which was delicious. They produce their own fermenting agents, and they are constantly trying new flavours and textures. They can’t stop, so, we want to encourage you to follow them closely on their Instagram account @formatgeria.linens

Thank you for opening the doors of your house, of the cheese factory, and specially for having shown us your goats.


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